Blog: The moment that made SBW a champion

Blog: The moment that made SBW a champion

On Sunday morning Sonny Bill Williams showed us what a true champion looks like.

He has won Rugby World Cups, NRL premierships, Super 15 and national boxing titles.

In the minutes after the final whistle of the Rugby World Cup final he added to that phenomenal record with one remarkable gesture.

We’ve all seen it now – SBW handing a small boy his winner’s medal after 14-year-old Charlie Lines was tackled by a security guard after running onto the Twickenham pitch.

But not everyone agrees that SBW’s gesture was a good one.

I came across one discussion about whether Charlie Lines should have been "rewarded" for his actions. I’ve since come across many more similar statements and articles.

You know what? It doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter if he comes from a wealthy family.

It doesn’t matter if he’s English.

It doesn’t matter if he broke the rules by jumping the fence.

What matters is how Sonny Bill responded to this situation. He saw something happen in front of him, and he reacted. In the split second he had to think things over, he didn’t react with force, or abuse, or disdain -  he reacted with kindness and generosity.

He wasn’t alone. Steve Hanson, Nehe Milner-Skudder, and Liam Messam all showed concern or passed on kindness in their own way.

Isn’t that something wonderful to aspire to? Isn’t that the perfect sort of ambassador for a sport, or a country, or a religion?

"But won’t this send a terrible message to children out there, that if they break the rules they’ll be rewarded?"

Maybe? I don’t know. My response, though, is if that’s the message you’re telling your kids to take out of this incident, you’re focusing on the wrong thing.

Sonny Bill’s since received a replacement medal from World Rugby, and his actions have been watched millions of times, and applauded all around the world.

His gesture will be seen in places that wouldn’t have any idea what rugby is, and that wouldn’t have the faintest notion of a World Cup.

His gesture transcends sport.

Think over this. What would Charlie Lines have taken out of this if he’d been dragged off the pitch by the scruff of his neck, to a chorus of boos and jeers? What would be his memories of that day?

Here’s what I hope he’ll take out of it.

Hopefully he’ll remember the kindness that he was shown when he ended up in a place he shouldn’t have been.

Hopefully he’ll remember how well he was treated when by rights he should have received no special treatment at all.

And perhaps many years from now, when he himself is in a similar unexpected situation, and it is his chance to react, hopefully he’ll respond as magnificently and kindly as Sonny Bill did.